HOUSTON – The Texans have restructured veteran starting cornerback Steven Nelson’s contract for accounting purposes, creating $1.134 million in salary-cap space, according to an NFL Players Association source.
Nelson’s base salary for the remainder of the season was lowered to the minimum of $1.165 million with $1.417 million to be paid in a signing bonus in nine installments. An additional $582,500 of the $1.165 million was guaranteed.
The deal includes four voidable years added that automatically void after the season with base salaries of $15 million annually through the 2027 season for the team captain.
Nelson has the same per game active roster bonus of $29,411, a $500,000 performance incentive bonus if he plays 82 percent of the Texans’ defensive snaps this season and another $500,000 if he plays 90 percent of the defensive snaps. Nelson has played 98 percent of the defensive snaps this season.
Nelson is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.
At the start of training camp, Nelson signed an upgraded contract that raises his total maximum compensation to $6.5 million, up from a previously scheduled $4.5 million this season. The deal included a $1 million signing bonus, $2 million total guaranteed, a $4 million base salary with $1 million of it guaranteed, plus playtime incentives and per game active roster bonuses adding another $1.5 million to the total value of the deal.
Nelson previously signed a two-year contract with a maximum value of $10 million that includes $4.5 million guaranteed with a $3.5 million base salary this year with $750,000 of his salary guaranteed along with an additional $1 million in per-game active roster bonuses and $500,000 in incentives available based on playing time. Nelson was previously tied with Dallas Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis with a $4.5 million annual average compensation ranking him 40th in the NFL among all cornerbacks.
Nelson, 30, leads the Texans with three interceptions this season. He has 31 tackles and five passes defensed. He has allowed 25 catches on 36 targets for a 69.4 completion percentage, 390 yards, one touchdown, a 79.6 opposing passer rating, 284 air yards, 106 yards after the catch and 15.6 yards per completion.
He is expected to miss Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals with neck and back injuries.
Nelson allowed just 9.9 yards per reception for his lowest in the past five seasons last year with an 80.5 opposing passer rating, 253 air yards for his lowest in the past five seasons, and 114 yards after the catch for his lowest total in the past three seasons. The Texans’ defense improved to 10th in passing defense from 23rd in 2021.
The former Kansas Chiefs third-round draft pick from Oregon State recorded 52 tackles with one interception and one sack in 16 starts. He played 94 percent of the defensive snaps and allowed 37 completions on 62 targets for 367 yards, and a 59.7 completion percentage with two touchdowns surrendered.
Nelson surrendered a 78.3 passer rating against him, ranking 29th in the NFL in that category. He was 20th in coverage snaps per catch rankings.
Nelson has recorded 424 career tackles, 71 pass deflections, 12 interceptions, four fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles.
Aaron Wilson is a Texans and NFL reporter for KPRC 2 and click2houston.com